Ray Stevenson, who plays Blackbeard in the upcoming third season of Starzpirate drama Black Sails, is Volstagg in the “Thor” movies; was Stephen Hopkins in National Geographic Channel’s Mayflower miniseries Saints & Strangers; and turned the republic upside down as legionnaire Titus Pullo in HBO’s Rome.
That resume raised the question of whether he really loves playing historical/mythical characters.
In a phone chat from his home in sunny Ibiza, Stevenson turned the question around a bit. In a production like Black Sails or Saints & Strangers, where there’s “incredible attention to detail,” he said, then “there’s this richness in everything” that’s very appealing.
Also, he noted, Pullo was part of “the most advanced technological nation on Earth,” and Blackbeard commanded fullrigged naval ships that were marvels of their age, brilliantly executed in the “extremely realistic” Starz production.
“I do love the fact when it’s done well that you can just mine everyone from the props department, the armorers, the set designers, the costume designers,” he said. “I chew it up.”
Blackbeard is a newcomer to Black Sails but not to Nassau, The Bahamas, where the circa early-1700s series is fictionally based (it’s filmed in South Africa).
Edward Teach has returned, after eight years away, to try to reunite with former protégé Capt. Charles Vane (Zach McGowan) and go on to lead a pirate fleet together.
His initial approach, at least, is relatively quiet.
“You’ve got a character who is by nature larger than life and outside of the norm, but you don’t want it to put a crack into the established mise en scene of the series,” Stevenson explained. “You want it to be part of it and enhance it and challenge it, and create much more interesting situations.”
No doubt Stephenson will stir things up in that powerful cast, led by Toby Stephensas Capt. Flint, when Black Sails returns Saturday, Jan. 23, at 9 p.m. on Starz.